Parliament has returned in full swing this week, and it is a hive of activity.

With our new majority, we have already made considerable progress (all votes comfortably won) on the Brexit Bill in these first few days, delivering on our promise to get Brexit done by January 31st. We have broken the deadlock, and, once delivered, we can focus on our new relationship with the EU, built on the spirit of friendly co-operation.

The new MPs are settling in and being allocated new offices and are busily recruiting their staff. I too have been given a new office in Westminster, though what I have gained in space is matched by the increase in mice! Apparently, we are not allowed to borrow Larry, Number 10’s resident cat.

The new Speaker of the House is already making changes. PMQ’s this week were rightly restored to 30 minutes, ending the drift towards one-hour sessions in the last Parliament. This has been widely welcomed for a number of reasons. Firstly, it restores the tension. Shorter, snappy questions keep the PM on his toes. Secondly, for the MPs who ask a PMQ, it will once again merit attention, vital for accountability, or raising the profile of important campaigns / issues. Finally, it also allows for programmes such as the Daily Politics to have time to analyse, debate and comment on the main questions.

In the coming weeks we will also see the election of the various select committees in Parliament. For me, as a DWP minister, I will be particularly interested in who takes the role of the Work & Pensions Select Committee Chair, especially now the former well-respected chairman, Frank Field has left Parliament. As a minister I am regularly asked to attend the committee to answer questions and have to consider and action many of their reports. The chairman for this committee will be an opposition member. I believe Stephen Timms MP, the Labour member for East Ham is considering running for the position and I have to say over many years at the Despatch Box responding to debates and questions, I have always respected his thoughtful and knowledgeable contributions, so I wish him luck.

I have also been busy as a minister setting out my priorities for the New Year with officials, charities and stakeholders. Firstly, concluding the vital review into the six-month terminal illness rules within PIP, working with organisations such as the Motor Neurone Disease Association, MS Society, Hospices and medical professionals. I understand the importance of providing support quickly and easily. Secondly, continuing to offer additional support and opportunities for those with disabilities or long-term health conditions to either find, or retain work, building on our record numbers. To do this, we will extend Disability Confident and improve the Access to Work scheme, both vital to support businesses in recruiting and retaining staff. Thirdly, building on our Help to Claim service, which we rolled out last year, allowing Citizen’s Advice to provide additional independent support within job centres to the most vulnerable claimants. This is vital, as under legacy benefits, £2.4bn of support went unclaimed each year by 700,000 claimants, all too often overwhelmed by a complex system. Under Universal Credit, which offers a simpler, personalised and tailored support, we are determined that those who should be getting support they are entitled to, do so.